When you market and deliver a product, but don’t actually use it yourself, people will ask why. That is no longer a question that executives at Linde North America have to answer. The New Jersey-based division of the Linde Group, a global gas and engineering company, has now deployed 23 liquefied(LNG) Class 8 tractors in its U.S. fleet of 625 Class 8 power units following a successful test of three vehicles last year.
“Linde stands committed to finding solutions for environmental sustainability, and this has definitely been one of our key factors,” says Bryan Luftglass, head of strategic market & business development energy solutions-LNG. “With this investment, we are also fully able to understand the performance capabilities and benefits of LNG as an alternative fuel and green technology, as well as have fuel cost savings.”
The company offers a program called “Clean Technology by Linde,” which includes a range of products that help its customers meet sustainability initiatives. These products range from specialty gases for solar module manufacturing, to industrial-scale CO2 separation and application technologies, to alternative fuels and energy carriers such as LNG and hydrogen. To then invest in one of these solutions for its own fleet is a natural progression for Linde and a visible show of support for the product.
“Our experience with our LNG trucks has been very positive,” says Fred Kinkin, head of supply for Linde North America. “Natural gas burns more cleanly than diesel and is more economical, so we were able to save money on fuel while reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Given the size of our fleet and our commitment to environmental sustainability, this reduction in emissions and costs is significant.”
POSITIVE REACTION The 23 vehicles, which include threeModel 384 trucks and 20 T440 models, are in service in the Los Angeles area, as well as in Baytown, TX, and LaPorte, IN. All are day cab models powered by a Cummins ISL G natural gas engine. Linde is operating the trucks within a 350-mi. operating range delivering cryogenic gases, says Ed Windsor, fleet maintenance manager.
Windsor says the company has seen a 20% savings in fuel cost, although performance characteristics of the vehicles have varied due to different operating environments.
“Driver acceptance of LNG trucks is very positive,” he adds. “The quiet and smooth operation of the LNG engine combined with the automatic transmission makes the truck easy to operate.” Linde plans to add an additional 20 LNG tractors to the fleet this year as replacements for existing diesel models.
To further promote the fuel to its customers, though, Linde has also undertaken a test of a mobile LNG fueler.
Working with Mississippi-based C Cross Transport, Linde deployed the mobile fueler to one of the fleet’s facilities in South Carolina to support the test of an LNG tractor. Linde supplied the logistics, arranged the installation and supplied necessary training.
“As a major hauler, we were eager to test whether using LNG is feasible and we are very pleased with the results,” says Harrison Cook, president of C Cross Transport. “The Linde team focused on safety and training, and made the process simple for our site personnel, which gave them confidence in their ability to manage the system. Based on experience to date, we expect to expand the test going forward.”
And in the not-too-distant future, those Linde tractors delivering natural gas to fleets may just be LNG vehicles themselves.